PEKIN, Ill. - Favorite foods are a popular part of the holiday season. They can be comforting and nostalgic. The Food Pantry Network-HOI is working to also make them healthier for people who rely on food pantries. The 12 Days of Giving campaign was planned with the goal of encouraging people to donate healthy, shelf-stable food items and winter attire to local food pantries, as well as providing education on the importance of healthy food donations.

Food plays a substantial role in health and impacts whether or not families are able to lead an active, healthy life. Communities with higher rates of food insecurity have been shown to have higher rates of diet related chronic diseases when compared to national rates. Chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease is the cause for seven out of ten deaths in the U.S. Feeding America has reported 66% of families using food pantries for support have to choose between medical needs and purchasing food. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. We hope to support food pantries in supplying healthier foods this season.

Join Food Pantry Network - HOI in the12 Days of Giving campaign as we provide people in need food and warmth this holiday season. The campaign will run December 1 – 12. Through the University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit website and Facebook page, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) staff will be sharing the Food Pantry Network’s social media images and education to encourage people to donate healthy food items to local food pantries.

“The idea is to collect 12 different types of items that are in great need at area food pantries,” explained Kaitlyn Streitmatter, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed educator. “Healthy, shelf-stable foods are so important to offer to clients year-round and they help make the holidays even more special. Beyond the typical canned foods, the list includes suggestions like peanut butter, whole-grain cereal, and spices.”

Over the course of 12 days, add the items to your donation container and deliver it to your local food pantry. Visit the Find Food IL Community Food Map at go.illinois.edu/findfoodIL to find details about food pantries near you.

12 Days of Giving:

  • Day 1:  Low sodium canned Veggie
  • Day 2: Canned Fruit in 100% juice
  • Day 3: Low sodium canned Ham
  • Day 4: Boxed Stuffing
  • Day 5: Boxed Potatoes
  • Day 6: Wheat Crackers
  • Day 7: Low sodium creamed soup
  • Day 8: Canned Yam or sweet potatoes
  • Day 9: Peanut Butter
  • Day 10: Whole grain cereal
  • Day 11: Spices - cinnamon, pepper, powders (garlic, onion, chili)
  • Day 12: Warm weather attire - new hats, new gloves, handwarmers

Visit us on Facebook at go.illinois.edu/fb12daysofgiving or visit us online at go.illinois.edu/12daysofgiving.

The mission of the Food Pantry Network - HOI (Heart of Illinois) is to support, connect and provide resources to those working within the emergency food system. This network of community partners strives to help alleviate hunger and build a healthier community. If you are a pantry or food bank in our area, please join us on the Facebook private group called Food Pantry Network-HOI.

Please contact Kaitlyn Streitmatter, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed educator, at kaitlyns@illinois.edu for additional information.